Sunday, September 6, 2009

Life in Bandung

I have decided that I will try to blog every Sunday evening (which is Sunday morning for those in the States). My life is simply not exciting enough for a daily airing of my going-ons--even 10,000+ miles from home. We shall see how I stick to my self-imposed schedule.

So, I am now in Bandung. We arrived early Friday afternoon. Due to leave at 9 am, we were rounded up at 8:30 and told to get on the bus. While the Indonesians have the phrase "rubber time," surprisingly, we ETAs (English Teaching Assistants) have to be prepared to jump when Nellie (the person in charge of wrangling us) calls. The hotel here is as equally wonderful as Jakarta (better for me because I had ants in my bathroom there, bug-free here).

Saturday morning saw the continuation of orientation. We spent over an hour setting up the cell phones AMINEF provided for us--it took some doing. The phone wanted to know my religion--not sure why. We also had a briefing from the doctor on all the very many diseases one can acquire while in Indonesia. The worst one, in my humble opinion, is an anembe (not sure on spelling, but a parasite), the medicine seems almost as bad as having a parasite. Not to mention diagnosing requires at least three stool samples that you most collect and deliver to the lab yourself. (I am sorry if this is TMI for a few, but this is a concern for me and right at the top of my "Please God, Do Not Let This Happen to Me" list).

Tomorrow we start a full schedule of language classes in the morning and afternoon and teaching training in between. We have full days Monday-Fridays and half-days on Saturdays with Sundays free.

Today we went shopping. It was fun. Basically we take a taxi somewhere and start wandering. It is an adventure. A lot of the clothes are American brands--often made in Indonesia.

One of the adventures I have experienced is the public transportation--angkots. They look like VW vans and are all over the place. The vans are different colors to indicate routes. We have gotten in the wrong van twice, so far. Well, the second time was it not really wrong, we just got on the van on the wrong side of the street and took the loop. The driver was slightly confused, but we made it to our intended destintation. During this ride, there was 19 people in the angkot at one time--that may not sound like a lot to you, but I will put a picture up soon to show why this was impressive at the time. Most rides on the angkots are 2,000 Rupiahs (which is about $0.20), much cheaper than taxis.

The second, least fun adventure is crossing the street. There are stripes in the street for crossing but no one pays any attention. It is a not fun game of chicken. Sidewalks are obviously not a part of city budgets and I am often walking in the sidewalk area with motorcycles whizzing by with inches to spar. There are also open drains around the sidewalks with grayish water with floating garbage that stinks to high heaven. Despite these little hiccups, I am having a great time traversing the city and meeting some neat people.

To continue my list of firsts: first time to eat chicken bacon (Jakarta hotel served it for breakfast, it was tough and not very good): first time to eat Thai food (I had Pad Thai), this also includes another first, I tried tofu (it tasted the same as the Pad Thai and wasn't too bad); first time in a Angkot; first time in a resturant with lounge seats where you remove your shoes (we went to a resturant called Atmosphere on Friday with this set-up, took me while to get comfortable but fun); first time to hear the call to prayer (for some reason, I never heard it in Jakarta and I have only caught it twice here, it is lovely). Well that is all for now. Have a fabulous week!

P.S. Wish me luck learning Bahasa (that is what the locals call Indonesian) and figuring out how to teach English without boring the students to tears or confusing them.

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